Capulin Cherry - Seedling
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Capulin Cherry blossoms.
Prunus serotina var. salicifolia
Capulin Cherry - Seedling

Uses:
Acquired: 2008
How started:
Source: Ashok Tambwekar, member Golden Gate CRFG chapter

Bloomed for the first time in 2012, but it did not set fruit.

Capulins have a dormancy period that is triggered by day length rather than by cold temperatures and therefore do not need cold winter weather to regulate their yearly flowering and fruiting cycle. My tree bloomed in June in Edmonds.

Like any fruit tree, the quality of fruit from a seedling is unrealiable. Select varieties of Capulin have excellent, sweet tasting cherries. Now that I have established a couple trees, I may seek scionwood of some of these better varieties.

Some facts from Wikipedia:
The Capulin has been cultivated for the areas now including Central America, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia, and is extensively and abundantly naturalized. The Capulin was an important food for the Indians, inhabitants, and the Spanish conquistadors who conquered the new lands of the Americas. At times, the Capulin served as the main food group for the Spanish. In native markets, the Capulin appears in great quantities, especially in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Ecuador. In Guatemala, the seedlings of the Capulin are used as rootstock from which commercial cultivars of the northern cherry are grafted. The fruit has a heavy aroma and is round, but very small(ranging from 3/8 to 3/4 of an inch (1–2 cm)wide.

Not much information on Capulin varieties. Those that have grown selections often comment that getting a better tasting seedling from seed are pretty good, so that is what I am recommending. Anyway, here are some notes from the Fruit and Orchard forum on GardenWeb:
"Emerich #1" produces the largest cherry, a nicely flavored fruit, but with fairly strong "wild" black cherry flavor notes.
"La Roca Grande" is a selection by Ben Poirier. The fruits have a slightly milder taste than "Emerich #1". They are a little smaller than "E. #1" fruits, and ripen to a dull reddish color. ("E. #1" fruits ripen to a deep, blackish-purple color.)
"Late Lomeli" is a seedling from the capulin grove in Conejo Park (established by the local CRFG chapter). This one comes into prime ripeness about a week or two after the other cultivars. It tastes the closest to a European P. avium sweet cherry. The main drawback to this selection is that the cherries are small, nanking cherry-sized.

The selections by George Emerich were given the above designations by one of our local CRFG members who originally brought the scions up from San Diego county, not George. So those names are really only used by Bay Area local hobbyists who have exchanged scionwood. Similarly, "Late Lomeli" was also just randomly given that name by the gentleman I mentioned above -- someone sent him wood from the Conejo Park planting, and he or she labelled the scions as the somewhat well-known variety "Lomeli". Well, the clone definitely wasn't "Lomeli", but it was somewhat late-bearing, so our local member just decided to call it "Late Lomeli". It is *not* actually a seedling of "Lomeli", so the name may not be the best!

Capulin cherries are fun to play around with, but they are certainly something of a "not ready for prime time" fruit -- they could be sweeter, the flesh/pit ratio could be better, and those resinous flavor notes could be less prominent. (Although some of the above selections are significantly less resinous than random seedlings.) This fruit has never been the subject of a formal breeding program, to the best of my knowledge, so there is the potential for great improvement.

Although the California rare-fruit community refers to this fruit as Prunus salicifolia, many authorities (including the USDA, I think) classify it as Prunus serotina var. salicifolia; in other words as a Mexican/Central American subspecies of the North American black cherry.


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